WRITTEN BY: KEVIN SCHAEFFER @_kevinschaeffer
Temple extends their conference-winning streak in conference play to six games as they cruised passed the University of Houston 78-48 with the help of some sophomores.
Temple (17-7, 11-2 American Athletic Conference) jumped out to an early lead fifteen seconds into the game and never looked back leading the game the rest of the way.
The Owls finished off the first quarter with a 26-9 lead, forcing Houston into nine first quarter turnovers and 23 for the game.
“I definitely thought our defensive intensity forced a lot of turnovers and took them out of their game,” Coach Tonya Cardoza said. “It was different from [Temple’s last game against Houston], they weren’t able to get the same easy shots and didn’t get into the same rhythm they got in last time.”
After jumping out in the first quarter, Temple didn’t take their foot off the gas never giving up the lead. But they did face an offensive speed bump in the second quarter only scoring ten points, but holding Houston to just six.
“We just weren’t finishing most of our shots, I thought we were a little laxed,” Cardoza said. “But we always talk about that if we’re not scoring we got to make sure [Houston] doesn’t, and even though we weren’t scoring they only scored six so the quarter could’ve gone completely different.”
Sophomore guard Tanaya Atkinson was big offensively for the Owls. Atkinson finished with a career high 27 points on 13 shots, including 17 in the first half alone.
“I really like slashing and I’m always running on the baseline,” Atkinson said. “I think I was able to find open spots where I could just flash for the ball or go right away towards the basket.”
Atkinson was not the only sophomore who had a career day. Sophomore Donnaizha Fountain finished with a career high of 20 points and grabbed a career high of 15 rebounds.
“I was just in a different mindset from when we played Houston the first time,” Fountain said. “Last time I wasn’t as focused as I should’ve been, so I just think I came in more prepared this time.”
Now after beating Houston, the Owls play the No. 1 team in the country, the University of Connecticut. After a 104-49 loss to Connecticut on Jan. 16, Temple looks to come into this matchup more prepared.
“I would hope we got that last game [against Connecticut] out of our system, we were horrible. I felt like we were just not up for the fight, we took a step back, and we weren’t as aggressive,” Cardoza said. “But I know on Sunday it’ll be different because we got it out of the way and now we really know what [Connecticut] is capable of doing.”